Gardening: Cuttings

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The Independent Online
The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew has arranged a series of study days on a wide range of subjects: paper-making, dyeing, ways of planting a herbaceous border. 'Plant identification made simple' is the next course on offer (10 June, 10am-4pm, cost pounds 30). Tutors Gail Bromley and Barrie Blewett explain the characteristic differences between families of plants and suggest some ways to unravel the gnomic language of the taxonomist. On 13 June (10am-5pm) Sally Imbert leads a practical course on natural dyes, using well known and easily available plants to provide a rich palette of colours. The dyeing course costs pounds 40. To reserve a place contact the Education Department, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB (0181-332 5626).

'It's worth it for the lunch alone,' said a friend when I enquired about Catriona Boyle's garden school at Penpergwm Lodge, Abergavenny, Gwent NP7 9AS. The 'school' is made up of a series of days with lectures, usually by different people, in the morning and afternoon, with the famous lunch in between. On 2 June, Lady Skelmersdale will talk on summer bulbs, much less used in gardens than spring ones, while the unbeatable Penelope Hobhouse fills the afternoon with the aesthetics of garden design. Each school day starts with coffee at 10.30am and finishes at about 3.30pm; the cost is pounds 45. To book or to enquire about the rest of the programme, call 01873 840208.

The best obituary I've read of the fine alpine plantsman Jack Drake, who died this winter, came by way of Jim and Jenny Archibald's spring seed list. Jim Archibald has a crisp, didactic writing style that I've always admired, but his obituary, with its description of a sunset glowing in the colours of Jack Drake's strain of lewisias, was elegiac. The seeds are worth having, too: fistfuls of foxgloves, including Digitalis thapsi from the Sierra de Gredos in Spain. Their next list, to be sent out this summer, will include seed from their own cultivated hellebores and cyclamen, freshly gathered for summer sowing. For a copy, send a large stamped addressed envelope to Jim and Jenny Archibald, Bryn Collen, Ffostrasol, Llandysul, Dyfed SA44 5SB.

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